The Passion of the Christ
Having chosen "passionate spirituality" as the focus for this year's life together we must now put more than words to this characteristic goal. How can we, how can I, become more passionate about the Christian life? Are there things that I should do, things I shouldn't do? is this really about becoming a better Christian, a better person?
What I strongly want to discourage is some program for self-improvement. That mentality will only make us more self-righteous, more proud of what we have accomplished, and ultimately less spiritual in all the best ways. No, it seems to me that the place to start is with a person, Jesus Christ. Passionate spirituality is about growing in relationship with him. So how does a relationship mature into a committed love for one another? What are the steps needed?
If you can remember back to your dating years the first thing you probably did in your courting was to find out everything
you could about the person you were attracted to. Love doesn't begin by showing off how important you are. The focus should always be on the interests of the other. So the Apostle Paul writes, "Live as children of light and find out what pleases the Lord" (Ephesians 5:8-10).
Well, what does please the Lord and how can we find out? Certainly the Bible is the place to start. It is God's book that tells what is in his heart. It reveals what he is passionate about. So should I read my Bible more? Of course, but not in order to convince God or anyone else that I am spiritual, but read in order to know Jesus. This kind of reading will involve prayer so that this exercise becomes a conversation, an opportunity to interact with Jesus himself.
Where should I start reading? I believe it is more important to start a conversation than to direct one. So I think the proper approach is to just start somewhere and pray that the Spirit of God will direct you. Let him control the dialogue. I have chosen for our Sunday Morning Worship the stories about Jesus, and particularly the ones that are referred to as his "Passion." Those are the accounts of his suffering, death and resurrection, I chose those not just because we are in the Lenten/Easter season but because I want each of us to know what Jesus is passionate about so that we can become passionate with him.
The phrase, the Passion of Christ, is from the Latin "patior" meaning "suffer." Anything that someone feels so strongly about that he/she is willing to suffer in order to realize it must certainly demonstrate what true passion is all about. So Jesus told his disciples about his coming death as they approached Jerusalem. These are called his "Passion Predictions." All of the gospels record them but I have chosen to look at them in the Gospel of Matthew and seek to understand what he meant with these repeated announcements. Hopefully in the process we will be drawn into his passionate embrace so that we "want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:10).
We are also beginning a study of the Gospel of Mark in our Friday Bible Study. This also is about getting to know Jesus, who he is and what he wants from us. As we progress through the season of Lent we arrive at the last week of Christ's life what we call either "Holy Week" or "Passion Week." It starts with Palm Sunday and concludes at Easter. What lies between those two Sundays is the Passion of the Christ. Knowing the what and the why of his choices can enable us to see things as he sees them, to see ourselves as he sees us, ,to see the world and our neighbors as ones that he passionately died to save. Hopefully this will be more than just the retelling of a familiar story. We pray that it will be come the passion of our lives to please Jesus.
Read the scripture passages for Sunday Worship. Read and pray over them. Let his passion becomes yours. See you in Worship.